Bidar police on Friday arrested four people in connection with the case of trespassing the Archaeological Survey of India-protected Mahmud Gawan Madrasa and performing a puja inside it in the wee hours of Thursday during the Dasara procession.
Manish Karbikar, Inspector-General of Police (North-eastern Range), said the situation was under control.
The madrasa, a 562-year-old heritage building in the old town of Bidar, came under the spotlight on Thursday after a video clip, showing a group of Hindutva activists entering the monument and raising slogans to hail “Hindu Rashtra” during the Olakote Bhavani Devi procession as part of Dasara celebration, went viral. Following a complaint by Mohammed Shafiuddin, a businessman, the police registered an FIR naming nine people. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) authorities too lodged a complaint with the Town Police for unauthorised entry. However, Anirudh, ASI Conservation Assistant, said that trespassers had not damaged the protected monument.
Meanwhile, in a release, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which organised the procession, claimed the police and the ASI authorities facilitated the “annual ritual” and there was no violation. S. Ramakrishnan, executive member of North Province, said performing puja at the madrasa was a part of the annual Shoba Yatra that commences from and ends at Bhavani Mandir located inside the Bidar fort after passing through major streets in the city.
“We were waiting outside the Gawan Madrasa to offer puja as we do every year since the gate of the building was locked. Police personnel and the ASI staff were called and they opened the gate, facilitating the entry of devotees to perform puja. Around 10-12 devotees performed puja and returned. Some miscreants made videos and shared them on social media to spread false news,” Mr. Ramakrishnan claimed.
Annual ritual took a different turn
According to people who are familiar with the annual ritual of Olakote Bhavani Devi procession, taken out on the last day of Navaratri, breaking a coconut near the entrance of the Mahmud Gawan Madrasa by elders of the Hindu community as the procession passes through the stretch is common practice. According to them, this ritual went off without any issue every year as it was done peacefully without shouting slogans or performing any puja by smearing the vermillion. However, this year, there was shouting of Hindutva slogans and performing of a puja.